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Title:
ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH BRISTLE STRUCTURE
Document Type and Number:
WIPO Patent Application WO/2019/016286
Kind Code:
A1
Abstract:
A personal care device (10) including an oscillating brush head (16) comprising a plurality of curved bristles (18b), each of the plurality of curved bristles comprising a tip (20) and further comprising a base (19) affixed to the brush head, wherein the tips of the curved bristles are positioned at an angle relative to the base of the curved bristles; and a body portion (12) in communication with the brush head and comprising a drivetrain mechanism configured to oscillate the brush head at a first frequency during use of the personal care device; where oscillation of the brush head at the first frequency oscillates the bristles and causes the tips of the bristles to brush the teeth and/or gums to remove biofilm, and wherein the oscillating bristles are capable of cleaning teeth surfaces, interproximal areas, and a gum line.

Inventors:
DEANE, Steven, Charles (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
SCHEFFERS, Lucas, Petrus, Henricus (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
PATEL, Jayprakash (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
HALL, Scott, E. (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Application Number:
EP2018/069552
Publication Date:
January 24, 2019
Filing Date:
July 18, 2018
Export Citation:
Click for automatic bibliography generation   Help
Assignee:
KONINKLIJKE PHILIPS N.V. (High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
International Classes:
A61C17/22; A46B7/00; A46B9/00; A61C17/26; A61C17/34
Domestic Patent References:
WO2008016342A12008-02-07
Foreign References:
US5148567A1992-09-22
US5027463A1991-07-02
US8176590B12012-05-15
US20170056147A12017-03-02
Other References:
None
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
VAN OUDHEUSDEN-PERSET, Laure, E. et al. (Philips International B.V. - Intellectual Property & Standards, High Tech Campus 5, 5656 AE Eindhoven, 5656 AE, NL)
Download PDF:
Claims:
Claims

What is claimed is:

1. A personal care device (10) comprising:

A brush head member (14) having an oscillating brush head (16) comprising a plurality of curved bristles (18b), each of the plurality of curved bristles comprising a tip (20) and further comprising a base (19) affixed to the brush head at a first surface (42), wherein the tips of the curved bristles are positioned at an angle relative to the base of the curved bristle tufts; and a body portion (12) in communication with the brush head member and comprising a drivetrain assembly (22) with a drivetrain shaft (24) configured to oscillate the brush head at a first frequency during use of the personal care device;

wherein oscillation of the brush head at the first frequency oscillates the bristles and causes the tips of the curved bristles to brush teeth and/or gums. .

2. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein oscillation of the brush head at the first frequency moves the bristles up and down along an axis aligned with the bristle base.

3. The personal care device of claim 1, further comprising a second plurality of bristles (18a) that are straight along their length.

4. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved bristles are curved inward toward a central axis of the brush head.

5. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved bristles are curved outward away from a central axis of the brush head.

6. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved bristles are configured in a first row (46) along a first side of a first surface (42) of the brush head member, and in a second row (48) along a second side of the first surface of the brush head member.

7. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved bristles are configured in a single row.

8. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the plurality of curved bristles comprise a plurality of different lengths.

9. The personal care device of claim 1, wherein the tips of the plurality of curved bristles are positioned at an angle of approximately 60 to 120 degrees relative to the base of the curved bristles.

10. The personal care device of claim 9, wherein the tips of at least some of the plurality of curved bristles are positioned at an angle of 90 degrees relative to the base of the curved bristles.

1 1. A personal care device (10) comprising:

a body portion (12); and

a brush head member (14) having a brush head (16) in communication with the body portion and comprising a plurality of flexible elements (60) attached at a first end (64) to the brush head, each of the plurality of flexible elements comprising a plurality of bristles (18) at a second end (66), wherein the tips (20) of the bristles are positioned at an angle relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible element.

12. The personal care device of claim 11, wherein the body portion comprises a drivetrain assembly (22) configured to oscillate the brush head at a first frequency during use of the personal care device.

13. The personal care device of claim 11 , wherein the plurality of flexible elements are biased toward a central axis of the brush head.

14. The personal care device of claim 11 , wherein the bristles are positioned at an angle of approximately 60 to 120 degrees relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elements.

15. The personal care device of claim 14, wherein at least some of the plurality of bristles are positioned at an angle of 90 degrees relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elements.

Description:
ELECTRIC TOOTHBRUSH BRISTLE STRUCTURE

Field of the Invention

[0001] The present disclosure is directed generally to an oscillating toothbrush with bristles configured to conform to the geometry of the mouth while providing sufficient stiffness to clean teeth and oral tissues.

Background

[0002] Proper tooth brushing, including length and coverage of brushing, and regular flossing, help ensure long-term dental health. Many dental problems are experienced by individuals who either do not regularly brush their teeth or floss, or who do so inadequately, especially in a particular area or region of the oral cavity. Among individuals who do brush and floss regularly, improper cleaning habits can result in poor coverage and thus surfaces that are not adequately cleaned during a cleaning session, even when a standard brushing or flossing regimen is followed.

[0003] Electric cleaning devices, such as electric toothbrushes and flossers, have been shown to greatly increase the efficacy of a cleaning session. Energy generated by the electric cleaning device is transferred to the brush head and bristles of the toothbrush. The bristles must be sufficiently stiff to transfer this energy to the teeth and oral tissues to remove the biofilm and debris. Overly pliable bristles will not effectively transfer energy and thus will not clean surfaces within the mouth. However, if the bristles are too stiff, they will not conform to the highly variable geometries of the teeth and oral tissues, and vital locations like the interproximal space and the gum line can be missed. Stiff bristles can also damage the oral tissues or cause tooth erosion. Existing toothbrushes attempt to provide bristles that are stiff enough to remove debris and biofilm, but these existing solutions are too stiff to adequately clean the geometries of the mouth, especially the interproximal space and the gum line.

[0004] Accordingly, there is a continued need for oscillating toothbrush with bristles configured to conform to the geometry of the mouth while providing sufficient stiffness to clean teeth and oral tissues. Summary of the Invention

[0005] The present disclosure is directed to inventive methods and systems for an oscillating toothbrush configured to clean teeth and gums. Various embodiments and implementations herein are directed to an oscillating toothbrush with bristles configured to conform to the geometry of the mouth. The bristles of the toothbrush comprise tips that are positioned at an angle with respect to the anchor point of the bristle. The bristles may comprise a bundle of bent or curved filaments. According to an embodiment, the toothbrush may comprise one or more flexible elements with tufts of bristles affixed at an angle relative to the brush head. The configuration of the bristles, together with the oscillating motion of the brush head, results in bristles that can clean the various geometries of the mouth with enough force to remove debris and biofilms.

[0006] Generally, in one aspect, an electric toothbrush is provided. The electric toothbrush includes: (i) an oscillating brush head comprising a plurality of curved bristle tufts, each of the plurality of curved bristle tufts comprising a tip and further comprising a base affixed to the brush head, wherein the tips of the curved bristle tips are positioned at an angle relative to the base of the curved bristle tufts; and (ii) a body portion in communication with the brush head and comprising an oscillation mechanism configured to oscillate the brush head at a first frequency during use of the electric toothbrush, wherein oscillation of the brush head at the first frequency oscillates the bristles and causes the tips of the curved bristles to brush the teeth and/or gums to remove biofilm, and wherein the oscillating bristles are capable of cleaning teeth surfaces, interproximal areas, and a gum line.

[0007] According to an embodiment, oscillation of the brush head at the first frequency moves the bristles up and down along an axis aligned with the bristle base.

[0008] According to an embodiment, the toothbrush includes a second plurality of bristle tufts (18a).

[0009] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are curved inward toward a central axis of the brush head.

[0010] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are curved outward away from a central axis of the brush head. [0011] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are configured in a first row along a first side of a first surface of the brush head, and in a second row along a second side of the first surface.

[0012] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are configured in a single row.

[0013] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts comprise a plurality of different lengths.

[0014] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are positioned at an angle of approximately 60 to 120 degrees relative to the base of the curved bristle tufts.

[0015] According to an embodiment, at least some of the plurality of curved bristle tufts are positioned at an angle of 90 degrees relative to the base of the curved bristle tufts.

[0016] According to an embodiment, the plurality of curved bristle tufts are positioned along a longitudinal axis of the brush head.

[0017] According to an aspect is a toothbrush including a body portion, and a brush head in communication with the body portion and comprising a plurality of flexible elements pivotally attached at a first end to the brush head, each of the plurality of flexible elements comprising a bristle tuft at a second end, wherein the tips of the bristle tufts are positioned at an angle relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible element.

[0018] According to an embodiment, the body portion of the toothbrush comprises an oscillation mechanism configured to oscillate the brush head at a first frequency during use of the electric toothbrush.

[0019] According to an embodiment, the plurality of flexible elements are biased toward a central axis of the brush head.

[0020] According to an embodiment, each of the plurality of flexible elements are positioned within, but able to move with respect to, a respective fixed positioning element.

[0021] It should be appreciated that all combinations of the foregoing concepts and additional concepts discussed in greater detail below (provided such concepts are not mutually inconsistent) are contemplated as being part of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein. In particular, all combinations of claimed subject matter appearing at the end of this disclosure are contemplated as being part of the inventive subject matter disclosed herein.

[0022] These and other aspects of the invention will be apparent from and elucidated with reference to the embodiment(s) described hereinafter.

Brief Description of the Drawings

[0023] In the drawings, like reference characters generally refer to the same parts throughout the different views. Also, the drawings are not necessarily to scale, emphasis instead generally being placed upon illustrating the principles of the invention.

[0024] FIG. 1 is a schematic representation of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0025] FIG. 2 is a schematic representation of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0026] FIG. 3 is a schematic representation of a portion of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0027] FIG. 4 is a schematic representation of a side view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0028] FIG. 5 is a schematic representation of a side view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0029] FIG. 6 is a schematic representation of a top view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0030] FIG. 7 is a schematic representation of a side view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0031] FIG. 8A is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0032] FIG. 8B is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment. [0033] FIG. 8C is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0034] FIG. 9 is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0035] FIG. 10 is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0036] FIG. 11 is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0037] FIG. 12 is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0038] FIG. 13 is a schematic representation of a side view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0039] FIG. 14 is a schematic representation of a front view of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0040] FIG. 15 is a schematic representation of various bristle configurations, in accordance with an embodiment.

[0041] FIG. 16 is a schematic representation of a bristle of a brush head of a personal care device, in accordance with an embodiment.

Detailed Description of Embodiments

[0042] A particular goal of utilization of the embodiments and implementations herein is to clean teeth and gums using a personal care device such as, e.g., a Philips Sonicareā„¢ electric toothbrush (manufactured by Koninklijke Philips Electronics, N.V.), although the assembly may be utilized with many other personal care devices such as flossers, skin cleaners, and other devices.

[0043] The present disclosure describes various embodiments of an oscillating toothbrush method or system with angled or curved bristles. More generally, Applicant has recognized and appreciated that it would be beneficial to provide a toothbrush configured to optimize cleaning of teeth and oral tissues. Accordingly, the methods and systems described or otherwise envisioned herein provide a toothbrush with bristles that have tips positioned at an angle with respect to the anchor point of the bristle. The bristles may comprise a bundle of bent or curved filaments. According to another embodiment, the toothbrush may comprise one or more flexible elements with tufts of bristles affixed at an angle relative to the brush head. The angle of the bristles together with the oscillation of the toothbrush provides significantly improved cleaning ability.

[0044] Referring to FIG. 1, in one embodiment, personal care device 10 is provided that includes a body portion 12 and a brush head member 14. Brush head member 14 includes at its end remote from the body portion a brush head 16. The body portion 12 typically comprises a housing, at least a portion of which is hollow, to contain components of the personal care device. Brush head member 14 is mounted so as to be able to move relative to the body portion 12. The movement can be any of a variety of different movements, including vibrations or rotation, among others.

[0045] The body portion 12 may comprise a drivetrain assembly with a motor 22 for generating movement, and a transmission component or drivetrain shaft 24, for transmitting the generated movements to brush head member 14, if the embodiment is an electric toothbrush. According to one embodiment, brush head member 14 is mounted to the drive train shaft 24 so as to be able to vibrate relative to body portion 12. The brush head member 14 can be fixedly mounted onto drive train shaft 24, or it may alternatively be detachably mounted so that brush head member 14 can be replaced with a different brush head member for different operating features, or when the bristles or another component of the brush head are worn out and require replacement.

[0046] Referring to FIG. 2, in one embodiment, a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10 is provided. The brush head comprises a longitudinal axis that is directed into the page of FIG. 2. Brush head 16 comprises a plurality of bristles 18b. According to an embodiment, these bristles are affixed at their base 19 to the first surface 42 of the brush head, and extend outwardly from the first surface. Bristles 18b are curved along at least a portion of their length. The curvature of bristles 18b results in bristle tips 20 that are positioned at an angle relative to the base 19 of the bristles. For example, as shown in FIG. 3, the bristle tips 20 of the curved bristles 18b are at an angle of approximately 90 degrees relative to the base 19 of the bristles 18b where attached to first surface 42 of the brush head 16. Angles of more and/or less than 90 degrees are possible as well. For example, according to an embodiment, the bristle tips 20 of the curved bristles 18b are at an angle of approximately 60 to 120 degrees relative to base 19 of the bristles. Brush head 16 also comprises a second plurality of bristles 18a which are affixed at their base 17 to the brush head 16. According to an embodiment, the bristles 18a are attached to a first surface 42 of the brush head, and extend outwardly from the first surface 42. However, according to another embodiment, the bristles extend from a side portion or other surface of the brush head 16. Bristles 18a are configured to interact with the user's dental surfaces, including the top surfaces of the teeth.

[0047] Referring to FIG. 4, in one embodiment, is a side view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. The brush head comprises a longitudinal axis "A". Brush head 16 comprises a plurality of short bristles 18a, which in this embodiment extend outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head. Brush head 16 also comprises aplurality of longer bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head. Bristles 18b are curved along at least a portion of their length, although the curvature is not visible in this view as the bristles are curving into the plane of the figure. In FIG. 4, bristles 18b are all approximately the same length.

[0048] Referring to FIG. 5, in one embodiment, is a side view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. Brush head 16 comprises a plurality of short bristles 18a and a plurality of longer bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head 16. Bristles 18b are curved along at least a portion of their length, although the curvature is not visible in this view as the bristles are curving into the plane of the figure. In FIG. 5, bristles 18b comprise two or more varying lengths. According to an embodiment, the length of a bristle can be modified or determined based at least in part on the location along the brush head 16.

[0049] Referring to FIG. 6, in one embodiment, is a top view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. The brush head comprises a plurality of curved bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head. According to an embodiment, the brush head 16 comprises a first row 46 of bristles 18b along the longitudinal axis on one side of the first surface 42, and a second row 48 of bristles 18b along the longitudinal axis on the opposite side of the first surface 42, although many other configurations are possible. When not in use, bristles 18b of each of the opposing rows curve inward and may mesh or intertwine together due to their curvature.

[0050] Referring to FIG. 7, in one embodiment, is a side view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10 during use to clean teeth 50 and gums 52. Although not shown in FIG. 7, the bristles 18b curve inward toward the surfaces of the teeth 50 and gums 52 to clear debris and biofilm. [0051] Referring to FIG. 8A is a front or reverse view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10 during use to clean teeth 50 and gums 52. Brush head 16 comprises a plurality of short bristles 18a and a plurality of longer bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head. Bristles 18b are curved inward toward the surfaces of the teeth 50 and gums 52 to clear debris and biofilm from those surfaces. Because the rows 46, 48 curve toward each other, they can slide over the teeth 50 and gums 52 with the curved tips 20 along the gum line facing the teeth and gums. The bristles brush especially well in the areas between the teeth 50, and along the gum line.

[0052] FIGS. 8B and 8C depict oscillation of the brush head 16 and movement of the bristles 18a and 18b during operation of the personal care device. The oscillation mechanism causes the brush head 16 to oscillate at a particular frequency with a particular range of motion, which moves the bases 17, 19 of the bristles 18a, 18b up and down relative to the teeth. According to just one embodiment, the brush head oscillations at approximately 250 Hz and has a range of motion of approximately 10 degrees, which causes the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b to oscillate up and down by approximately 0.5 to 1 mm, although many other frequencies and ranges are possible.

[0053] For example, in FIG. 8B, the brush head oscillates in a first direction and the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b on a first side 46 of the brush head move upward while the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b on a second side 48 of the brush head move downward, causing the tips 20 of each of the curved bristles 18b to brush the tooth 50 and/or gum 52 tissues.

[0054] Similarly, in FIG. 8C, the brush head oscillates in an opposite direction and the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b on the first side 46 of the brush head move downward while the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b on the second side 48 of the brush head move upward, causing the tips 20 of each of the bristles to brush the tooth 50 and/or gum 52 tissues.

[0055] As the brush head oscillates and moves the bases 19 of the curved bristles 18b up and down, the oscillation motion has a significant component along the axis of the bristle base, which enables a scraping force of the tips of the bristles on the teeth and improves the cleaning efficiency of the curved bristles. As a result, the tips of the curved bristles sweep the surface of the teeth and/or gums as the brush head, providing sufficient stiffness to clean the teeth and gums without causing discomfort.

[0056] Referring to FIG. 9, according to another embodiment, is a front view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. The brush head 16 comprises a longitudinal axis that is directed into the page of FIG. 9. In this embodiment, the brush head 16 comprises a plurality of bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head, and a second plurality of bristles 18b' extending outwardly in the opposite direction from first surface 42 of the brush head. In contrast to the embodiments in FIGS. 2-8, brush head 16 in FIG. 9 orients the tips 20of the bristlesl8b, 18b' outward from center axis B of the brush head rather than inward toward the center axis. During use, as shown in FIG. 10, the bristles clean one or more surfaces in the mouth, and may be more similar to conventional brushing techniques.

[0057] Referring to FIG. 11, according to an embodiment, is a front view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. The brush head comprises aplurality of bristles 18b extending outwardly from first surface 42 of the brush head. Similar to the embodiment depicted in FIG. 9, the tips 20 of the bristles extend outward from center axis of the brush head.

[0058] According to another embodiment, the brush head comprises a plurality of flexible elements configured to orient a plurality of bristles at approximately a 90 degree angle relative to the base of the flexible elements. Referring to FIG. 12, in one embodiment, is a front or reverse view of a brush head 16 of a personal care device 10. The brush head comprises a longitudinal axis that is directed into the page of FIG. 12. The brush head comprises a plurality of flexible elements 60 each connected at a first end 64 to the brush head 16. At a second end 66 of each of the plurality of flexible elements 60 is aplurality of bristles 18. The plurality of flexible elements 60 and/or the plurality of bristles 18 are positioned such that the bristle tips 20 are at an angle of approximately 90 degrees or more relative to the first surface 42 of the brush head. Although not shown in FIG. 12, angles of more and/or less than 90 degrees are possible as well. During use, the flexible elements 60 may straddle the opposing sides of a tooth, and as the bristles move along the variable geometries of the tooth and gum surfaces, the flexible elements will adjust to those surfaces. According to an embodiment, the flexible elements may be biased toward tooth 50 and gum 52 surfaces to add an additional cleaning force. This can be accomplished via a spring or other biasing mechanism.

[0059] Referring to FIG. 13 is a side view of brush head 16 shown in FIG. 12. In this embodiment, brush head 16 comprises a plurality of flexible elements 60 each connected at a first end 64 to the brush head. Although not shown, each of the plurality of flexible elements 60 has a plurality of bristles 18 at their second end 66 to clean the teeth and gum surfaces. [0060] Referring to FIG. 14 is an embodiment of brush head 16, in which the brush head comprises a plurality of flexible elements 60 each connected to the brush head. According to an embodiment, the flexible elements may be connected at a first end to 64 the brush head. According to an embodiment, flexible element 60 is a flexible element rigidly fixed to the brush head at fixing point 62, and the brush head oscillation has a significant lateral component at the fixing point 62. Each of the plurality of flexible elements comprises a plurality of bristles 18 located at a second end of the flexible elements and/or along the length of the flexible element, as shown in FIG. 14. Bristles 18 are positioned at an angle relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible element 60. For example, in FIG. 14 the bristles are positioned at approximately 90 degrees relative to the longitudinal axis of the flexible elements, although angles greater than and less than 90 degrees are possible. Bristles 18 are configured to clean the occlusal surfaces of the teeth during operation of the personal care device.

[0061] According to an embodiment, the combination of the brushing structures described herein together with electric actuation of the brush head, such as twisting or oscillation, produces significant advantages compared to conventional brush heads with straight bristles. Specifically, brush heads with bristles 18b that are curved such that the tips of the bristles are at approximately a 90 degree angle (with many variations greater or less than 90 degrees) and brush and/or impact the sides of the teeth and gums, together with the actuation of the brush head, significantly increases the efficacy of cleaning. According to an embodiment, the twisting or oscillation of the brush head 16 moves the brush head approximately 5-10 degrees in opposite directions, although many other degrees and variations are possible. This twisting or oscillation of the brush head prevents the curved bristles 18b from bending too much as the bristles are moved along the tooth 50 and gum 52 surfaces. Thus, the twisting or oscillation of the brush head 16 keeps the bristles at a preferred stiffness. This stiffness can be tuned by adjusting the curvature of the bristles, the diameter of the bristles, the stiffness of the material utilized to create the bristles, and/or the degree of twisting or oscillation of the brush head, among other variables. Thus, the bristle structures can be designed or optimized to maintain gentle contact with the tooth and gum surfaces, avoiding any uncontacted areas, discomfort or risk of abrasion, while transmitting sufficient force to remove plaque.

[0062] According to an embodiment, the twisting or oscillation of the brush head 16 allows the brush and bristles to move more freely along the surfaces compared to a manual back-and-forth motion, which improves cleaning of surfaces such as the interproximal areas (the area between teeth). The oscillation of the brush head and the curvature/orientation of the bristles allows for improved tuning of the ratio of brushing forces - which must be sufficiently high to clean surfaces - to contour-following forces - which must be sufficiently low to allow the bristles to access all surfaces of the teeth and gums without causing discomfort. Accordingly, the oscillating brush head with specialized bristles provides significantly improved cleaning of surfaces, greater than oscillation alone or with specialized bristles alone.

[0063] According to one embodiment, when the brush head is actuated the brush head shaft makes a twisting or oscillation motion, resulting in an up-and-down motion of the tips 20 of the curved bristles 18b. This produces a brushing force that corresponds to the vertical orientation of curved bristle filament, as shown in FIG. 15, in which a curved bristle (2) is shown compared to a straight bristle (1) in either a vertical or a horizontal orientation.

[0064] Referring to TABLE 1 are experimentally-derived force measurements for the embodiments shown in FIG. 15. The measured forces for a single straight bristle filament and a single curved bristle filament show not only much lower contour following force for the curved bristle with respect to the straight one, but also a higher brushing force. As these forces are highly dependent on material characteristics and diameter in addition to measured orientation, ratios of brushing force over contour following force are utilized when comparing the different bristle filaments.

[0065] TABLE 1. Comparison of Straight versus Curved Bristles

[0066] In this experiment, manual motion refers to manually moving a brush head back and forth over surfaces in the mouth, while sonic motion refers to a twisting or oscillating motion actuated by an electric toothbrush. The force ratio shows that the use of curved bristles, together with a twisting or oscillating motion actuated by an electric toothbrush significantly improves cleaning forces relative to curved bristles used with a manual motion. The force ratio can be further tuned by modifying the position or degree of the bend or curvature, and thus can be optimized for plaque removal, comfort, and safety.

[0067] Referring to FIG. 16 is a schematic representation of a brush head 16 with a bristle 18b positioned with a bristle tip 20 at approximately a 90 degree angle with reference to the base 19 of the bristles 18b. One or more variables of the bristle 18b can be modified in order to tune the cleaning force and the contour- following force, and thus tune the force ratio. In FIG. 16, the total length of bristle 18b is equal to L v + Lh. The topographical or contour-following force is provided primarily by the lateral bending of the vertical segment, and thus is proportional to 1/(L V 3 ). The brushing force stiffness is related to both lengths L v + Lh, although it is primarily related to Lh, and is proportional to l/(Lh 2 .(Lh+L v /3)). According to an embodiment, the ratio of vertical to horizontal forces at tip 20 of the bristle can be tuned by varying the vertical length of the bristle as a proportion of the horizontal length. For example, for an increased topographical force, L v is decreased. For a decreased topographical force, L v is increased. To adjust the brushing forces, the length of Lh can be adjusted. For example, for lower brushing forces, Lh can be increased, and vice versa. According to another embodiment, another adjustment could be made to the bristle diameter and total length to adjust overall stiffness, particularly after desired correct Lh L v proportions are made or determined.

[0068] All definitions, as defined and used herein, should be understood to control over dictionary definitions, definitions in documents incorporated by reference, and/or ordinary meanings of the defined terms.

[0069] The indefinite articles "a" and "an," as used herein in the specification and in the claims, unless clearly indicated to the contrary, should be understood to mean "at least one."

[0070] The phrase "and/or," as used herein in the specification and in the claims, should be understood to mean "either or both" of the elements so conjoined, i.e., elements that are conjunctively present in some cases and disjunctively present in other cases. Multiple elements listed with "and/or" should be construed in the same fashion, i.e., "one or more" of the elements so conjoined. Other elements may optionally be present other than the elements specifically identified by the "and/or" clause, whether related or unrelated to those elements specifically identified.

[0071] As used herein in the specification and in the claims, "or" should be understood to have the same meaning as "and/or" as defined above. For example, when separating items in a list, "or" or "and/or" shall be interpreted as being inclusive, i.e., the inclusion of at least one, but also including more than one, of a number or list of elements, and, optionally, additional unlisted items. Only terms clearly indicated to the contrary, such as "only one of or "exactly one of," or, when used in the claims, "consisting of," will refer to the inclusion of exactly one element of a number or list of elements. In general, the term "or" as used herein shall only be interpreted as indicating exclusive alternatives (i.e. "one or the other but not both") when preceded by terms of exclusivity, such as "either," "one of," "only one of," or "exactly one of."

[0072] As used herein in the specification and in the claims, the phrase "at least one," in reference to a list of one or more elements, should be understood to mean at least one element selected from any one or more of the elements in the list of elements, but not necessarily including at least one of each and every element specifically listed within the list of elements and not excluding any combinations of elements in the list of elements. This definition also allows that elements may optionally be present other than the elements specifically identified within the list of elements to which the phrase "at least one" refers, whether related or unrelated to those elements specifically identified.

[0073] It should also be understood that, unless clearly indicated to the contrary, in any methods claimed herein that include more than one step or act, the order of the steps or acts of the method is not necessarily limited to the order in which the steps or acts of the method are recited.

[0074] In the claims, as well as in the specification above, all transitional phrases such as "comprising," "including," "carrying," "having," "containing," "involving," "holding," "composed of," and the like are to be understood to be open-ended, i.e., to mean including but not limited to. Only the transitional phrases "consisting of and "consisting essentially of shall be closed or semi-closed transitional phrases, respectively.

While several inventive embodiments have been described and illustrated herein, those of ordinary skill in the art will readily envision a variety of other means and/or structures for performing the function and/or obtaining the results and/or one or more of the advantages described herein, and each of such variations and/or modifications is deemed to be within the scope of the inventive embodiments described herein. More generally, those skilled in the art will readily appreciate that all parameters, dimensions, materials, and configurations described herein are meant to be exemplary and that the actual parameters, dimensions, materials, and/or configurations will depend upon the specific application or applications for which the inventive teachings is/are used. Those skilled in the art will recognize, or be able to ascertain using no more than routine experimentation, many equivalents to the specific inventive embodiments described herein. It is, therefore, to be understood that the foregoing embodiments are presented by way of example only and that, within the scope of the appended claims and equivalents thereto, inventive embodiments may be practiced otherwise than as specifically described and claimed. Inventive embodiments of the present disclosure are directed to each individual feature, system, article, material, kit, and/or method described herein. In addition, any combination of two or more such features, systems, articles, materials, kits, and/or methods, if such features, systems, articles, materials, kits, and/or methods are not mutually inconsistent, is included within the inventive scope of the present disclosure.